Definition of Subject:
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
The study of English is the study of words and ideas. More precisely, the study of English at KCC is the study of the power of words and the exploration of how they can empower humans to share their thoughts and ideas. The study of literature is the study of human nature. Through engaging in literature, and exploring the craft of writing, we can engage with universal human experiences and shape our own powerful voices in society.
Nature of Subject:
English as a discipline is often viewed as two separate but closely related areas: the study of language and the study of literature. While these are examined as two separate subjects at GCSE, we encourage students to see them as two parts of one whole. A strong knowledge of technical aspects of language helps students to refine their literary analysis, while a strong knowledge of literary works and concepts helps them to understand how language is used in the world around us.
English Literature focuses on the study of literary works, including a range of poetry, prose and drama from across time and space. Students begin by exploring the concept of authorship and intentionality before developing their ability to analyse how texts are shaped by writers to fulfil a wide range of purposes. English Language focuses on the study of technical and grammatical aspects of English, with students taking on the roles of both analyst and creator of texts.
Purpose of Subject:
English at KCC is shaped around the theme of ‘power and empowerment’. This reflects our key objectives:
- To arm students with the powerful knowledge of our literary tradition and the various ways in which it can be interpreted and evaluated.
- To develop students who are skilled readers of literary and non-literary texts, and who can use reading as a way of expanding their knowledge of the world.
- To allow students to experience the power of literature, develop a love of reading and appreciate the artful crafting of language.
- To empower students to use language with precision, range and creativity in order to share their views and shape their worlds.
- To provide students with the procedural knowledge required to write accurately in a range of contexts, including formal, academic fields.
- To encourage students to find their own voices and speak with authority and confidence.
Year 7: Students explore the dual concepts of authorial intention and reader response. Their studies start with the exploration of fable and allegory, including Aesop’s Fables and Animal Farm. Having developed knowledge of the intentionality of texts, students then move on to apply this to their own writing, in the for of Gothic descriptions inspired by their reading of Susan Hill and Pullman’s stage version of Frankenstein. Finally, students use Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a vehicle for exploring rhetoric.
Year 8: In 2021/22, Year 8 students will build on their knowledge of intentionality by exploring the role of context in shaping texts. The year begins with the study of the theme of dreams, focusing on Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and the poetry of Langston Hughes. Students explore how the writers’ contexts influenced their treatment of this subject. Students then build on this through the exploration of protest writing, using a range of literary fiction and non-fiction texts as a springboard for creating and delivering their own speeches. Year 8 ends with the study of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, with students
Year 9: The focus for Year 9 is on the craft of writing. Through the study of Lord of the Flies and Power and Conflict Poetry, students explore the choices made by writers in order to convey universal themes, including form, word choice, character function and character development. Dystopian fiction then forms the inspiration for students exploring their own choices as writing, with the end product being student developing their own dystopian stories. Finally, students explore the use of rhetoric in Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ speech before exploring rhetoric and other devices used by Priestley to present ideas about society in An Inspector Calls.
Year 10: In Year 10, students draw together their work on authorial intention and writer’s craft to develop their analytical skills. The year starts with the study of Jekyll and Hyde, with students focusing on Stevenson’s ideas about the essential nature of humanity. We also explore further poems from the Power and Conflict anthology, building on the work in Year 9 and developing students’ skills in comparative analysis. Students are guided to develop their sophisticated, academic written style and to deepen their analysis of texts. Through their text study and further work on unseen fiction analysis, students also work towards the skills needed for their English Language GCSE.
Year 11: In Year 11, students begin by studying their final text for English Literature: Macbeth. Here, they build on their knowledge of Shakespearean context and explore how the play presents ideas about kingship, ambition and the supernatural. Reading focuses first on developing plot and character knowledge in order to build students’ enjoyment of reading Shakespeare and to appreciate the universal ideas behind his plays. Students will then study the final poems from the Power and Conflict anthology, with a focus on independent interpretation skills and unseen analysis. Year 11 students are prepared to take AQA GCSE examinations in English Language and English Literature.
Year 12: In 2021/22, we have two ‘A’ Level groups running in Year 12: AQA A Level English Language and AQA A Level English Literature (‘A’ specification).
The English Language course builds on the bridging work completed by students at the end of Year 11, and arms them with initial knowledge of the key terminology needed to undertake a linguistic framework analysis of spoken and written texts. Students are then introduced to the concept of sociolinguistics, exploring how language choices are shaped by class, gender, occupation, region and social group. This allows students to develop understanding of linguistics as an area of research, and to engage with theories and ideas. In the final term of Year 12, students focus on their own use of research methods, planning and initiating their own research into an area of language use.
In English Literature, students begin by building on the bridging work completed by students at the end of year 11. The course starts with an overview of the literary canon and key movements in literature. Alongside this, students are reminded of the skills of independent analysis and introduced to the idea of viewing texts through critical lenses. From this starting point, students study a range of literary texts, including The Great Gatsby, Othello, Feminine Gospels and The Handmaid’s Tale. Through the study of these texts, students develop their analysis skills and are introduced to critical and theoretical perspectives.
As part of our sixth form curriculum we also offer a GCSE English Language resit class, both for students who did not achieve a grade 4 or higher in their initial attempt, and for students who wish to improve their grade. Students receive regular, skills-specific feedback based in order to help them make progress. We provide students with the opportunity to enter for resits in both the November and June series.
Year 13: In 2021/22, students are studying the EdExcel ‘A’ Level English Language and Literature curriculum. The curriculum is designed to build on the textual knowledge that students acquired in Year 12. Students revisit their taught texts with a focus on more detailed thematic exploration, with a particular focus on thematic comparison through the study of Othello and The Great Gatsby. Students build both knowledge of the texts and themes, and knowledge of academic writing skills. Students also build their knowledge of genre and stylistic conventions through the study of the Voices anthology. In term 3, students complete their NEA, focusing on the crafting and editing of both fiction and non-fiction texts for real audiences and purposes.